This year has seen an abundance of superhero films. That may be cause for celebration for fans, but for others it might represent a glut. ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is a case in point. Whilst up to the technical and performance standards of previous entries, the sixth movie in the X-Men series has a generic, tired feel to it. There’s a sense of going through the heroic motions than offering anything fresh. Familiarity perhaps breeds contempt with the overdose of Marvel/DC comic book productions continuing unabated.
When the first and most powerful mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) awakens from an endless slumber, he sets out to re-create earth. With the help of rogue mutant Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Apocalypse wants the planet to do his bidding. In his way are Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his fellow mutant pupils who join forces to eradicate this new evil. The battle for Earth’s future reaches a crescendo where the survival of every participant isn’t guaranteed.
Directing his fourth X-Men film, Bryan Singer should know what makes an X-Men story work. ‘Apocalypse’ mostly works due to his keen eye for spectacular action and dazzling visuals. Aided by the usual solid efforts of actors Fassbender, McAvoy and cast, the stage is set for a diverting entry. Letting it down is the script’s lack of energetic zest. It is easy feeling as if you’ve seen everything before with not much new added to the mythos.
That isn’t to say ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is a dull affair because it isn’t. There is more humour in the usually dour X-Men world this time around, making the heroically-gifted characters feel more human. The dearth of characters is sometimes too much as like most recent block-busters ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ crams in as many as possible. This has the effect of drawing you away too much from the more interesting mind games between the main characters. What’s on offer is good but less can be so much more in such an effects-heavy movie.
‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ delivers tons of noise and explosions to belt eardrums. Story-wise it isn’t as strong as previous instalments. It’s better than some superhero spectacles although it may be wise to give this bunch of heroes a rest before their welcome is over-stayed.
Rating out of 10: 6
There have been so many superhero films recently, it’s been hard telling them apart. Many have the same template of high-octane thrills and an abundance of CGI-fused action. It would be very easy to cynically think ‘Captain America: Civil War’ would just be the same. To a degree it is, although the strong direction and solid characterisation make it more than diverting. With an emotional and personal involvement in the story, ‘Captain America: Civil War’ ensures its many masked heroes leap through the comic book pages with mighty abandon.
When collateral damage is caused by The Avengers, led by Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) the government steps in. Creating a system of better accountability, this leads to a shocking split. With Rogers wanting to continue a path of individual freedom, his views are opposed by Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr). Battle-lines are quickly drawn as hero vs. hero with the game of brinkmanship used by sinister forces determined to eradicate the heroes forever.
Having directed the previous Captain America film ‘Winter Soldier’ to great acclaim, the Russo Brothers do the same with ‘Civil War’. The title is a little mis-leading as this is more an Avengers tale than a genuine solo Captain America outing. This somewhat de-values the title character’s contribution although overall ‘Civil War’ delivers glossy spectacle. Injected with intelligent plotting exploring issues of trust and loyalty, the story zooms along at break-neck speed disguising its gargantuan run-time.
For long-time Marvel comic fans, ‘Civil War’ provides a blancmange of super-heroics. Spider-Man and Black Panther make their debuts in the official Marvel cinematic universe, infusing a freshness the script needs. Their contribution to the action sequences make them watchable even if perhaps watching constantly fighting heroes becomes a little tedious. The strength of the direction and story make up for it, giving the solid cast plenty to get stuck into in between wearing outrageous outfits.
‘Captain America: Civil War’ is what you’d expect from a Marvel movie. It has style, pace and excitement wrapped in an easily viewable package. The cost of a cinema ticket would be well spent for an escapist night-out with the big-screen surely invented for a massive block-buster such as this.
Rating out of 10: 7